Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back to NY

This REALLY will be a quick one since I'm heading back to NY tomorrow and I have way too much stuff to do. My mom got to fly with Duane King this morning and had a BLAST! She couldn't say enough good about that flight! She got to see some really cool stuff in the pictures I saw so it sounds like a perfect way to wrap up their visit! We also got to go to Sheep Mountain on Sunday and saw all sorts of sheep along the way. Here's a panorama of the Sheep Mountain area:

"Our" mountain in the evening light:

Lion's Head:

Sheep mommies with their babies:

The garden area so far - we still need to go another layer higher with fencing to keep out moose and then the south side will have fish netting (thanks, Brian and Lori Lee!)

Ellie got too hot while we were working on the garden. It DOES get hot up here, especially when you are out in the sun! I'd REALLY appreciate prayer while we are in NY! It is HOT right now - like 90 hot! I will be MISERABLE if it stays that hot! I'll be miserable if it is 80 but... Yeah.

Dad on my motorcycle. Still don't have a picture of me on it yet. He's better on it than I am!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wildlife abounds!

We're into another of my favorite seasons here in Alaska. I think this officially means that they are all favorites! I could do without the cottonwood trees starting to leaf out (they bother me now, not when they produce cotton), but other than that, this is truly another amazing season! The first week that my parents were here we didn't see any moose. I think it was because the snow was finally gone and they were out roaming around eating. Now that they are getting ready to have their young, they are back in camp where the bears won't follow. We've been seeing them daily again; sometimes a little too close for comfort! ;)

The other day my parents were out working on getting a garden plot ready while I was back in the house getting gloves for everyone. I heard a yell and looked out just in time to see a moose go charging through our yard, right between my mom near the greenhouse and my dad near the chicken coop! My dad wasn't too flustered but at one point the moose was running straight toward my mom! Guess her heart is still good, because she didn't have a heart attack! ;) It was a youngster fortunately, not too big in reality, though I'm pretty sure it looked about 10' tall to my mom. We sort of expected the naughty dogs to be close behind, but they were no where to be seen. Sort of makes you wonder why that moose was in such a hurry. Other than that close encounter, most of their wildlife interactions have been as we generally like it, with plenty of distance and/or enclosure in between them and it.

Andrei had to have his nose fixed yesterday which meant getting up at the crack of dawn for the two hour drive in. The afternoon before the surgery my parents got the idea that since we needed to be in Anchorage early anyway, they ought to try to catch the morning train to Denali. We got on the phone and within a half hour had them booked for the next morning. They got to Denali at about 4 pm after a leisurely ride with numerous sightings of Denali (apparently not as easy to see as one might imagine, it is usually hiding behind some clouds). They also got to see more moose, a baby bear and caribou. We were thrilled that they had such great weather and a great time! They'll head back today and Rodney will pick them up in Wasilla.

They've had a decent opportunity to view the wildlife. We've had sheep (or goats) hanging about the camp on the hills above our house and along the hills on the way to the school (which we've driven many times picking up kids) so they've had a number of opportunities to watch them. There have also been ducks galore on the lake in front of our house in addition to many western birds which have had us heading to the Audubon books to identify them. We've had a pair of Goldeneye ducks, some Pintails, Mallards of course and Shovelers. There have been others but we haven't been able to identify all of them yet. Who needs to raise ducks when so many of them come in and do the job themselves! ;) None of the work - all of the enjoyment this way! There are pretty little blue butterflies that hang around a damp spot on the lower hiking path. They flitter like little fluorescent fairies around your ankles. I can't even begin to list all the song birds we are seeing and hearing! The new-to-us, ever-changing flora and fauna are a constant source of wonder and amazement!

We're into our 24 hrs of daylight now which is certainly interesting. It doesn't bother me, but the kids and Ellie are having trouble sleeping. Then again, today marks the end of school for the year so I'm sure that is part of the excitement these days. Sergei got up at 6:30 yesterday and rushed Oksana out to the school bus so that they wouldn't miss it. They were an hour early. Ellie has been more than her normal anxious and annoying, keeping us up many nights with her whining. It may be just the daylight, but blood tests show some abnormal liver functioning (may be making her more anxious) so she's on some medication for that and some other possibilities. We'll see how that goes. For now she's sleeping with Andrei who isn't sleeping much either. They can keep each other company while they toss and turn.

We'll be back in NY in about a week. It is hard to imagine that it is coming that quickly! We'll be at Middlesex Baptist with intense jet-lag and red-eye-lag on May 30 and may be in East Palmyra at my parent's church (CRC) the next Sunday, June 6, if everything works out. My brother and nephew are coming from Florida and my sister may be coming from Calgary so that is going to be a BUSY week! Not sure if I mentioned or not, but a friend brought a new trailer up from Georgia for us so I need to pack our remaining "stuff" into that while we are in NY. Then we need to figure out how to get it up here! Ideally we'd like to buy a Suburban in the lower 48 and have someone drive that up, but we have some other options if that doesn't come together. Interestingly enough, there are a number of people willing to drive if we provide the vehicle and gas! I'd love to do it again too someday if there's no schedule, no anxious dog and no crabby teens involved! We'll plan on that when the kids are in college, or out of the house or something.

Speaking of wildlife... The last day of school means crazy dressing, plus the nose cast. Maggie would like to sign his cast, but I didn't want to set a precedent at school so she'll have to wait until tonight.

Mama and last year's baby swam across the lake yesterday - as you can see, no more ice. Eider has also discovered that and is wet pretty much constantly now.

A pair of Pintails earlier in the week when there was still a little ice.

Goldeneyes that same day.

Apologies in advance for any errors! Rodney normally proofreads but he's gone for the day and I'm too impatient to wait for him to get home late in the evening to read this before I post it!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Broken nose and parents visiting

This is going to be a short one not because there's not much to tell, but because time is at a premium lately! My parents arrived a little more than a week ago and things promptly got crazy (to put it mildly). On Monday night Andrei was playing volleyball with the community group and one of the girls on his team went for the ball at the same time Andrei did. Her elbow? (or something) connected with his nose and this is the result:

I promptly sent this picture to my brother and sister-in-law (it's handy to have doctors in the family) to see if it needed treatment now or if it could wait until we returned home in a couple of weeks. They were rather adamant that it be handled NOW! He'll get it put back in place this coming Wednesday. This was taken the day after the break. It is actually getting some pretty color now!

So far, much of my parent's visit has consisted of driving to doctor appointments in Wasilla. I think we've now made 3 visits to doctors in just over one week. We did squeeze in a trip to the Iditarod headquarters today. That was more store than museum, but it was still interesting. We also got to spend a day with my cousin in Palmer seeing his farm. That was fun! He's always got interesting experiments going on! We got to see some Bald Eagles at the farm and some of the penned moose and caribou. We've also seen sheep (or maybe goats) on the hills between here and the school almost every time we've gone to the school for one thing or the other. They'd been here a week before they saw their first wild moose on the church driveway! My mom was thrilled! Us, not so much. We see them so often it has become old hat, but I do remember that same feeling - wanting to see a real, live moose.

Oh, one side note on moose. Remember that lovely little moose we put in the freezer? Well, I can't eat it. I'd eaten it a couple of times and it just didn't agree with me. Then we had it at Nate and Maggie's house and I mentioned having some bad experiences with it. Katie asked me if I was allergic to aspirin. I am, but I couldn't see how that had anything to do with moose. Katie explained that moose eat a lot of willow in the winter and get a lot of salicylates built up in their systems. Who would have thunk it! Much as I love the taste of that delicious young moose, I don't much care for the suffering it produces in my gut over the next 24 hours!

Back to the parents. We did get to go out for a tour of the Matanuska glacier! We had a beautiful day to do it and Matt Sherrer from camp was an awesome guide! He's so funny and so knowledgeable about the glacier that it made it quite a trip! The glacier was BEAUTIFUL! I've been waiting for the right time to make a trip out there and this was perfect! Hope you enjoy the pictures! This is the color of the ice through the rocks it has carved out of the hills:

Too bad the camera doesn't quite capture the splendor of the day, or the glacier.

The brave adventurers!

Morning commute

Morning commute